Tanning Beds and Cancer

Friday, July 18, 2008

The July 11 front-page article "Melanoma Rates Increase Among Younger Women" gave much-needed attention to a critical trend.

But the Indoor Tanning Association's claim that there is no scientific evidence showing that indoor tanning causes melanoma could further confuse readers. In fact, researchers strongly disagree, as demonstrated by a recent petition -- signed by nearly 500 of the world's melanoma researchers -- affirming such evidence. Recent studies show a 75 percent increase in risk for melanoma in people who begin using tanning beds in their teens or 20s.

Moreover, with indoor tanning exposure, there is an elevated risk of developing nonmelanoma skin cancers, some of which may be lethal. Given the increased melanoma rates among younger women, avoidance of indoor tanning is one of the most striking ways of reducing skin cancer risk.



The writer is head of dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

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